The University of Minnesota-Duluth women's hockey team had various reasons to recruit Brainerd's Erin Holznagel.
There was no doubt about her ability to score, as evidenced by 60 goals and 100 total points in five previous varsity seasons. There was no question about her stabilizing presence on defense. And, there was no doubt about her willingness to be coached.
Holznagel's attributes off the ice also had to attract the three-time defending NCAA champion Bulldogs. She is a fitness fanatic, which Warriors coach Jim Ernster believes may be a rare characteristic among female high school athletes.
"Erin's development the last few years is a credit to her, physically," Ernster said. "She's come farther along than I think anybody could have anticipated, including herself.
"She's just sort of a student of being an athlete. She takes care of herself. She eats the right things, does the right things off the ice.
"She works hard in the offseason. For any athlete the offseason has to be when you have the bulk of your development. Once you're in-season you can't lift like you should, you can't do off-ice training like you should. Once the season starts you concentrate on fine-tuning various system-type stuff."
Holznagel, who began working out in earnest as a seventh grader, conceded it was difficult at first.
Sport -- Girls' hockey
Position -- Defense
Year -- Senior
Age -- 18
Height -- 5-foot-5
Other sports -- Softball
Memorable sports achievement -- Playing in 2003 women's 18-19 national hockey festival at Lake Placid.
Grade-point average -- 3.4
Favorite subject -- Physical education
Favorite TV show -- "CSI"
Future plans -- Has signed to play hockey at Minnesota-Duluth
Athletes she admires -- Olympian Jenny Potter and Minnesota's Liz Palkie
Parents -- Danette and Clayton Holznagel
"You could always sit on the couch and say you don't really want to work out right now," she said, "but then you develop a habit for it. It becomes exciting when you start to see the results. It's not easy and it's not fun but once you get to see those results that's what pushes you the next summer.
"Eating right came along with exercising. A lot of people think if you exercise and burn all those calories you can go eat a Big Mac, but you're wasting all that energy and all that work you did. Because you eat right you will see more results."
Holznagel's results on the ice this season include hat tricks against St. Cloud Apollo and Willmar and a team-leading 16 goals and 27 points through 12 games. Last season she led the team in scoring with 19 goals and 30 points.
"Honestly, I try hard not to worry about points," she said. "That's something that can get in a lot of girls' heads, including mine. It can really break a team apart. We don't need that."
Holznagel believes the fact she has signed to play at the next level has helped her relax.
"That's something that helps push me this year, that I've got something next year," she said.
"I have felt some extra pressure as far as more (opponents) being around me. That will definitely help me for next year, knowing the girls will be that much stronger. As far as having more girls on me, it makes me get my head up and see my teammates."
On-ice vision is another of Holznagel's attributes.
"Erin has so many raw tools," Ernster said. "She's so fast. She can shoot the puck so hard. She passes really well. If someone is open, and they're 60 feet away, chances are nine out of 10 times the pass will be right on the tape of that person's stick.
"With her speed she has the ability to get out of trouble in an instant. When she passes the puck she uses her speed to put herself in position to get a shot. When she gets a shot she's going to rip the shot. She's got some physically raw tools that are exciting to see in a hockey player."
Other notable efforts by Warriors:
Christina Roberts, Nordic skiing, won the girls' race in the Brainerd Invitational.
Andrew Mehr, swimming, won the 50-yard freestyle in the Warriors' holiday invitational.
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